March Madness is officially over, yielding to the sober intensity of April's Final Four. Each remaining team has four wins under its belt, but the last two wins needed to claim a national title are by far the most difficult to notch. Each game sees a disparity in seeding, but the teams are much closer than their initial bracket positions.
We preview both the Final Four games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and fill you in on how to watch, what to watch for and what history implies about the results.
All Your Bracket Essentials
|April 5||(1) Florida vs. (7) UConn||6:09 p.m.||TBS (also TNT and truTV)|
|April 5||(2) Wisconsin vs. (8) Kentucky||8:49 p.m.||TBS (also TNT and truTV)|
|April 7||National Championship||9:10 p.m.||CBS|
According to CBS Sports (via WUSA9.com), "The Final Four on Saturday, April 5 will be televised on TBS for the first time along with 'teamcasts' or team-specific telecasts airing on TNT and truTV."
That means fans of either team can watch a feed specifically geared to their favorite squad. With streaming to mobile devices as well (cable or satellite subscription information required), fans can put their "teamcast" on the big screen and stream the TBS feed to a computer, tablet or phone.
(1) Florida vs. (7) Connecticut
Remember when UConn lost to Louisville by 33 points on March 8? Clearly the Huskies got that dreck out of their system, and they romped past Michigan State as the Spartans could not match UConn's mojo.
Shabazz Napier has been unreal in the tournament so far, with the only comparison for his prowess to former Huskie and current Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker.
UConn nipped Florida, 65-64, back on Dec. 2, and that was the Gators' last loss this season. However, their only other loss came against Wisconsin, another Final Four entrant, which seems like terrible news for Florida.
Good news for UConn, which plays Florida. Last 4 teams to beat a team in the reg. season and then meet in Final Four all won the rematch.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 31, 2014
Florida: 0-2 against Wisconsin and UConn, but 36-0 vs everyone else this season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 31, 2014
UConn is also 6-1 all-time in the Final Four, the best record of any team to play there at least three times.
Still, Florida came in as the top overall seed in the tournament and has simply dominated. The Gators won each of their first four games by double figures, and five of the last six teams to do that won the national championship.
Florida also held all four opponents under 70 points, and the last team to win by at least 10 and hold opponents under 70 was the 2000 champion Spartans per ESPN Stats and Info.
With the Gators plowing through opponents with the determination of a train's cattle catcher, Napier and the Huskies will fall back to Earth.
(2) Wisconsin vs. (8) Kentucky
This will be UK coach John Calipari's fifth trip to the Final Four, one more than Florida coach Billy Donovan. His frosh-laden team got dinged with 10 losses during the season, but that ballyhooed recruiting class is playing its best ball at the right time.
Julius Randle continues to rack up the double-doubles and became only the second player ever to record one in his first four tournament games as a freshman, per ESPN Stats and Info.
However, Willie Cauley-Stein is doubtful for the Final Four after sitting out Kentucky's Elite Eight victory over Michigan. Calipari stated Monday on an NCAA conference call, per ESPN's Dana O'Neil: "I doubt he plays. He will be on our bench, cheering like crazy."
Marcus Lee played in his place and sparkled for 15 minutes with 10 points, eight rebounds (including a stunning seven of Kentucky's 17 offensive rebounds) and two blocked shots. He missed only two of his seven shots from the field. It was a titanic effort from Lee, who has averaged just 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 6.1 minutes per game on the season.
Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky thrilled Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley, who put forth a very simple game plan for the Badgers before tipoff: Get the ball to Kaminsky!
The Badgers are now seeking their first national championship since 1941. They were steeled by tough competition in the Big Ten, college basketball's finest conference, and their upperclassmen could very well lead them past a young group of Wildcats long on talent but short on experience.
Kentucky and Connecticut beat 3 Top-4 seeds to get to the Final 4. Only teams to do that before them- 1986 LSU, 2000 Florida, 2011 Butler— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2014
Who will play in the national championship?
Both Kentucky and UConn knocked off three Top Four teams to reach the Final Four, something only three other schools had done in history, but Kentucky is essentially a powerhouse team that played below its ability earlier in the season.
Since Feb. 1, Kentucky has just one loss in regulation to a team that is not Florida. The Wildcats don't just have the scorers, but they rank 19th in the nation in defensive rebounds, ninth in offensive rebounding and ninth in blocks.
They can beat you in a variety of ways, and even though the Wildcats needed Aaron Harrison's timely triple to get past Michigan, they have the length to neutralize Kaminsky and control Wisconsin.
Look for a national championship of Florida against Kentucky, and the Gators will chomp their SEC rivals once again for a fourth time this season.